Sun sets on windy Derby 2012

This year the rain held off until the last class was completed; it came down in soft soaking sheets as the course was cleared at amazing speed and the showground reverted to its civilian life as a field.

Wind was the feature of this year’s event. A stiff breeze with consistent strong gusts played havoc with the jumps as they balanced precariously on the green slopes of Hillsborough Farm. The arena party, course builder Patricia and above all the ever-ready Edwards family joined forces to fill sandbags to weigh down wings and fillers. Given the circumstances, it was miraculous that the competition managed to go ahead at all!

Considering the amount of effort invested in the event and the superb venue, entries were disappointingly thin on the ground. Let’s call a spade a spade: if we can’t rely on our own members to come out and participate in the events we run, we have to question the wisdom of running them. Support from our neighbouring clubs was low but it merely mirrored the support from our own membership.

For those who did turn out, it was a hugely enjoyable day’s competition. The layout of the showground worked beautifully. The derby course was long and challenging but the heights and times allowed were sympathetic to the terrain and the lack of derby experience of the riders. Just three competitors managed clear rounds on the day but everybody felt the course was enjoyable and fair.

With no competitors in the Primary class, Sally Mahon of the Gaeltachts, Finola Murphy of Benbulben, and the evergreen Lawrence Smyth of the Gaeltachts were the very worthy winners of the three cups that were presented.

Dressage proceeded calmly under a relaxed and most accommodating Petra Kucklick. Nadine and Damien won their respective classes on Molly and Millie and the remaining results will surface shortly.

On a day when a great many people need to be thanked, a few stand out particularly: Patricia for her course building and judging; Cormac for his judging and self-deprecating commentary; Petra for her generosity with her time. But two families deserve particular mention: the Moore Family, for their endless and untiring help, particularly considering that they are not even members of the club; and the Edwards Family, without whose land, machinery, manpower, helpfulness, resourcefulness and above all, friendliness, none of this would have been possible. We are greatly in your debt.

A big thank you to all the competitors who travelled to the event from Donegal Gaeltacht, Benbulben and, very particularly to John, Dermot, Kevin and Lorraine from Dalysgrove.

Thanks to all our members who helped in any way, particularly to those who worked hard all day even though they weren’t riding themselves. Finally, thank you to John who despite family illness orchestrated the entire event wonderfully.

Pictured below: The day’s three big winners — Sally Mahon, Finola Murphy and Lawrence Smyth. And the day’s littlest winner, Libby, who won the Best Turned Out on Fenway.